Labour’s Scottish nightmare

Jim Murphy, the shadow international development minister, is one of a “trio of hopefuls” contesting the vacant leadership of the Scottish Labour Party following the resignation of Johann Lamont, says The Daily Telegraph. But will there be anything left to lead?

An Ipsos Mori poll for STV News suggests that the Scottish National Party could “wipe Labour off the map” at the next election. The survey shows that Labour would poll 23% of the Scottish vote, leaving the party with just four seats in Scotland, while the SNP would poll 52%, giving them a projected 54 seats at Westminster.

Given that Labour currently has 40 Scottish MPs, this would jeopardise Ed Miliband’s chances of becoming the next prime minister. And it’s not looking good, says Peter Kellner in The Times. In the 2010 general election, twice as many people voted Labour as SNP.

Now just 31% of Scots who voted Labour in 2010 think the party “represents the views and interests of Scotland today” well, while 59% think the party does this job badly. “These are truly terrible figures.”

Of course, part of the explanation for this is likely to be that Scotland is experiencing a similar backlash against the main parties to the one that has “propelled” Ukip to such heights in England, says The Times.

Indeed, just as Cameron warns that voting Ukip will hand Labour power, so Labour is now saying that a vote for the SNP makes a Conservative government in Westminster more likely.

However, the rise of the SNP is “entirely the fault of a Labour party that treated Scotland as its fiefdom”. It is now reaping the consequences of its “complacency and incompetent leadership”.

At least with Jim Murphy at the helm, Labour is “far more likely” to start winning in Scotland again, says James Forsyth in The Spectator. “He has energy, no fear of the SNP and the ability to win elections.” However, what are his chances of becoming leader?

Many in Scottish Labour, and particularly the unions – who, along with “affiliated societies”, enjoy a third of the vote – want the party to move left to counter the threat of the SNP’s new leader, Nicola Sturgeon, who is “far more conventionally left-wing” than Alex Salmond.

Yet, Murphy is on Labour’s “reformist right”. He is a Blairite and a hawk on the Middle East, and it is “impossible to imagine him trying to fight on any other ground than the centre”. Unite and the Labour left will therefore oppose his candidacy “vigorously”.

For his part, Murphy is rejecting all labels and proclaiming his desire to unify the party. Interviewed on The World at One, he said: “The approach I’m going to try and take is, I don’t care whether you’re left-wing, or right-wing, or New Labour, or Old Labour, it’s Losing Labour I want to get rid of.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *